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Big Marriage Defeat Looms In 2014 (Parts 4 And 5)



var addthis_config = {“data_track_addressbar”:true};Parts 4 & 5 in a 7-part investigative series

Republican political operatives are about to give anti-LGBT hate groups just what they crave: a lopsided defeat for gay rights in the deepest South. NCRM’s 7-part investigative series reveals how progress toward marriage equality in other states is threatened by current events in Florida.

Part 4 of 7:  Party Plans

If EMFL’s campaign fails, that will advance two Republican Party goals:  (1) blocking the spread of marriage equality; and (2) attempting to repeal it wherever it exists.

When the first same-gender couples married in 2004, the GOP launched efforts to ban and repeal same-gender civil marriage, everywhere, forever, via the U.S. Constitution, as written on page 10 of the latest Republican Party Platform.  The prior platform said  — with no proof whatsoever — that being raised by two lesbian mothers makes children more likely to become criminals, drop-outs, violent, pregnant, and/or poor.

When the Republican Party wants to run a stealth campaign, it often calls GOP strategist Tim Mooney.

When Utah banned same-gender civil marriage in 2004, it was Tim Mooney who ran that campaign.  After ten years of discrimination, Mooney’s ban was found unconstitutional by a U.S. district court in late 2013, and for 18 days, Utah’s same-gender couples were marrying, until the ruling was stayed pending an appeal.  Also in 2004, Mooney put Ralph Nader on the presidential ballot in several states, which helped put Republican George Bush in the White House because some of Democrat John Kerry’s voters then switched to Nader.  In 2010, Mooney helped elect Republican Rick Perry as governor of Texas by secretly launching a separate, stealth campaign to split liberal votes between a Democratic candidate and a Green Party candidate, which then left Perry with more votes than either of his other two opponents.

On 9 May 2013, around the time that Mooney helped launch EMFL, he spoke at a “Latinos & Conservatism” conference in Las Vegas, where he represented the Faith & Freedom Coalition, an anti-LGBT group where the mission includes repealing and banning marriage nationwide.

In June 2013, Mooney helped launch twin marriage campaigns:  EMFL (Equal Marriage Florida) in the east, and EMAZ (Equal Marriage Arizona) in the west.  Both met with similar suspicion and resistance from the LGBT community.  Two months after he launched EMAZ, its leaders closed the doors.  Seven months after he launched EMFL, its leaders refused to itemize their progress or plans for this article.

In August 2013, Mooney admitted that he was working as a political consultant to marriage equality campaigns — but that he was doing so in order to benefit the Republican Party.  Mooney excused his marriage equality consulting work to fellow conservatives by calling it “the most effective strategy for the future of the GOP” — the party that’s still working to ban and repeal same-gender marriages nationwide.  Like Brito, Gray, and other EMFL leaders, Mooney did not respond to multiple e-mail and phone requests to be interviewed for this article.

On 17 December, Vanessa Brito wrote and recommended contacting Ron Nielson at Our America Initiative, the conservative Libertarian political organization that backs EMFL, and that is named on every EMFL Web page as “Sponsor.”  But it appears that she didn’t want anyone to reach him at all, because she misspelled his name as “Nielsen” and gave a fake, non-existent e-mail address of  Tracking down the real Ron Nielson was revealing:  he did not want to be quoted anywhere, and would not speak on the record.

Brito’s refusal to answer interview questions, Gray’s refusal to correct the previously published numbers, Mooney’s failure to return inquiries, and Nielson’s refusal to be quoted are all very odd for a statewide campaign in which every signature and every vote matters, and for which any publicity is helpful.  But refusing to talk is not surprising, according to Professor Andrew Koppelman, instructor in law and political science at Northwestern University, who says that not returning reporters’ inquiries is “one of the basic rules of any stealth organization.”

Tim Mooney isn’t the only person associated with EMFL who worked to defeat marriage equality.  EMFL Chairperson/Treasurer Vanessa Brito did, too.  She was the Project Manager & Media Expert for the Hispanic Leadership Fund, a conservative group, where she worked trying to get Mitt Romney elected President of the United States.  During that campaign, Romney publicly signed a written vow to outlaw, repeal, and ban same-gender marriages via the U.S. Constitution.  He was defeated in November 2012.  Seven months later, Brito appointed herself as Chairperson and Treasurer of Equal Marriage Florida.

The only EMFL representative willing to speak on the record is Communications Specialist Joe Hunter from Our America Initiative, which backs EMFL, and is named on every EMFL Web page as “Sponsor.”  Hunter believes that EMFL has made some progress, yet when asked for current figures on staffing, signatures, or fund-raising, he replied, “I really couldn’t answer; I simply don’t know.”

Part 5 of 7:  Haters Wait with Bated Breath

By the 1 February deadline shown on its Web site, EMFL either will succeed at putting the marriage question on Florida’s ballot, or else will fail to put it on the ballot.  All indications are that EMFL will fail.  If the November claim of only 200,000 signatures is accurate, then the remaining 800,000 signatures can’t be collected by the deadline, because there are only three remaining part-time, unpaid district co-chairs who still show working e-mail addresses (no co-chairs show any phone numbers), and each of those three people would have to collect 266,667 more signatures.

That unachievable goal has anti-LGBT hate groups salivating.  As soon as the 1 February deadline is missed, they can start bragging that they just defeated another marriage equality campaign, without lifting a finger.

For LGBT activists, though, staying off the Florida ballot is far safer than getting on it.  If marriage equality appears on either a 2014 or a 2016 ballot, anti-LGBT hate groups nationwide will unleash their usual dragons, fueled and funded by Mormon churchgoers, Catholic bishops, evangelical Dominionists, and NOM’s tiny handful of wealthy, secret donors.  Those groups flooded over $40 million into California’s Proposition 8 battle only 6 years ago, and they’re just itching to repeat themselves.  Florida would make a great showcase for an encore performance.

Meanwhile, EMFL filed Florida campaign finance reports showing that it has collected none of the $6 million that it promised to raise.  To make matters worse, $6 million is probably inadequate.  Brito sells campaign services, marked up to give herself a profit, so her estimated budget is probably too small to:  (a) change cultural attitudes, (b) saturate Florida’s ten media markets, and (c) fight wealthy Mormon and Catholic bishops (whose funds for oppressing LGBT people appear relatively unlimited).

In 2008, although the LGBT community raised $4.3 million to fight Florida’s constitutional marriage ban, anti-equality forces raised only $1.6 million, and yet they won by a 24% landslide.  In Oregon, where the population is about one-fifth of Florida’s, campaign leaders have budgeted $10-12 million, and in Georgia, with half the population of Florida, Georgia
Equality leaders also expect to spend $10 million.  All these data point to two realities for EMFL:  changing cultural attitudes is the critical goal, and EMFL’s $6 million budget is too small to achieve that goal.

Six years ago, Floridians voted, 62% to 38%, against equality.  To reverse that to at least 60% to 40% favoring equality (the minimum needed to pass), any campaign would have to focus resources on changing votes.  Among Florida’s 16 million potential voters, the most labor-intensive are the 7 million who are all over age 50, mostly Republican, and who stridently want to keep the current marriage ban.  Collecting signatures is pointless unless EMFL also persuades nearly 2 million citizens to switch their vote from anti-equality to pro-equality.

Asked how those voters will get converted, OAI spokesman and EMFL Sponsor Joe Hunter says he doesn’t think it’s necessary to change cultural attitudes, and EMFL doesn’t plan to work on that.  “It is close enough.  We don’t have to change a whole bunch of minds.  There are enough people in Florida who are sympathetic to marriage equality to pass it; the challenge is making sure they go vote,” he said.  When asked how OAI and EMFL can be so sure of victory, Hunter replied, “We have done our own polling, and the conclusion is it is not a slam dunk, but we’re certainly in a position to get there.”

Neither OAI nor EMFL is willing to release any of their private poll results, and when asked which public polls convinced OAI to sponsor EMFL, Hunter could not immediately identify any.

Three days later, he did point to three surveys from a newspaper, a university, and a surveyor, but none of those polls suggested that at least 60% of the voters would agree to alter the state constitution.  In October 2012, when the Washington Post asked 1,107 adult registered Florida voters whether same-gender couples should be able to marry, 54% said yes, 33% said no, and 13% had no opinion.  In December 2012, when Quinnipiac University asked 1,261 registered Florida voters the same question, only 43% said yes, and every age group 30 and older fell far short of the critical 60% minimum.  In August 2013, when St. Pete Polls asked 3,034 registered Florida voters (demographically balanced by district, party, race, and age) the same question, only 46% said yes, 47% said no, 7% were unsure, and no age group had the required 60% minimum.

Vanessa Brito says she earned a Ph.D. in Political Science from Florida International University, a curriculum which should have taught her about the need to persuade critical demographic groups.  Apparently it didn’t.  Rather than concentrate on the anti-equality voters, she is focusing instead on Libertarians, moderate Republicans, and the least important group of all:  younger voters, “the people in their 30s, the voters in their 30s” as she told the Miami Herald last June.  The signatures of 30-somethings might put equal marriage on the ballot and win that battle, but ignoring their 7 million Republican parents and grandparents will also defeat equality at the polls, and thus lose the whole war.

In this populous, media-centric state, that’s a defeat which conservatives will crow about for years — and which will help raise more anti-LGBT cash — to the detriment of marriage rights everywhere else.

If EMFL gets the marriage equality question onto any ballot, Floridians — not to mention the rest of the nation — will then suffer through another bitter, vicious campaign in which billboards and broadcasts call LGBT people defective, deviant, depraved, and demonically possessed.  While that campaign rages in this southernmost state, teenagers who are LGBT or who have same-gender parents are likely to be brutalized, and children from all age groups will be victims of the prejudice for which America’s deep-south theocrats are so famous.

Either way, EMFL now is poised to hand the anti-LGBT forces exactly what they want:  a wide victory, in an election year, in a big state.  That victory will come either via EMFL’s failure to collect enough petition signatures, or else via a Proposition-8-style media battle — in which opponents relentlessly advertise that LGBT individuals, couples, and their children don’t even deserve basic human rights — followed by a defeat at the polls.

Tomorrow in this investigative series:  Part 6 – Promising the Impossible, and Part 7 – Prognosis.

skitched-20130320-084004Ned Flaherty is an LGBT activist currently focused on civil marriage equality, and previously on Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal. He writes from Boston, Massachusetts, where America’s first same-gender civil marriages began in 2004. He suffered a childhood exposure to Roman Catholic pomp and circumstance, but the spell never took, and he recovered.

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Trump Has Been Notified He Is Target of DOJ Investigation – Insists ‘It’s Not True’ He’s Getting Indicted: Reports



Attorneys for Donald Trump reportedly have been notified the ex-president is a target of a criminal investigation into his handling of classified documents. The ex-president denies he is being indicted.

The Guardian Wednesday evening reported federal prosecutors told Trump’s attorneys last week he is a target of the long investigation that is now led by Special Counsel Jack Smith. That investigation, experts believe, could lead to obstruction of justice and Espionage Act charges.

“Trump’s lawyers were notified before they met on Monday with the special counsel Jack Smith leading the Mar-a-Lago documents case and the senior career official in the deputy attorney general’s office and made the case that prosecutors should not indict the former president in the matter,” The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell reports.

Politico also confirms The Guardian’s reporting, stating: “Federal prosecutors have notified former President Donald Trump in a letter that he is the target of a criminal investigation, according to a person familiar with the matter.”

Earlier Wednesday, a conservative website reported federal prosecutors had informed Trump’s attorneys he is a target and likely to be indicted. That website is run by John Solomon, who Trump named as his official representative to the National Archives last year. That move reportedly gave Solomon access to non-public administration records related to Russia, Politico reported.

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Later Wednesday, The New York Times’ Maggie Haberman reported via Twitter she had been in touch with Trump.

“Trump tells me minutes ago he has NOT been told he’s getting indicted, when contacted. ‘It’s not true,’ he said, adding again he hasn’t done anything wrong,” Haberman tweeted at 2:40 PM.

“When I asked if he had been told he’s a target, he demurred, saying he doesn’t talk directly to prosecutors,” she added.

Haberman says she used the Solomon report as the basis for her conversation with Trump.

Less than one hour after Haberman says she spoke with the ex-president, he again posted an angry rant on his Truth Social platform.

“No one has told me I’m being indicted, and I shouldn’t be because I’ve done NOTHING wrong, but I have assumed for years that I am a Target of the WEAPONIZED DOJ & FBI, starting with the Russia, Russia, Russia HOAX, the “No Collusion” Mueller Report, Impeachment HOAX #1, Impeachment HOAX #2, the PERFECT Ukraine phone call, and various other SCAMS & WITCH HUNTS,” he rambled.

Trump made clear he expects House Republicans to protect him: “REPUBLICANS IN CONGRESS MUST MAKE THIS THEIR # 1 ISSUE!!!”


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Mark Meadows Reportedly Agrees to Plea Deal – Attorney Denies



Mark Meadows, the former Trump White House Chief of Staff and former North Carolina Republican Congressman, reportedly has accepted a plea deal from the Dept. of Justice in exchange for pleading guilty to federal charges.

According to The Independent’s Andrew Feinberg, Meadows has also been co-operating with Special Counsel Jack Smith’s investigators, which several legal experts have recently suggested was likely happening.

“Over the course of the last year, grand jurors have heard testimony from numerous associates of the ex-president, including nearly every employee of Mar-a-Lago, former administration officials who worked in Mr Trump’s post-presidential office and for his political operation, and former high-ranking administration officials such as his final White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows,” Feinberg reports at The Independent.

“Mr Meadows has already given evidence before the grand jury and is said to be cooperating with the investigation into his former boss,” the article, published Wednesday afternoon, states. “It is understood that the former North Carolina congressman will plead guilty to several federal charges as part of a deal for which he has already received limited immunity in exchange for his testimony.”

In an update to its reporting, The Independent adds Meadows’ attorney denies he would ever enter any guilty plea:

“A source who was briefed on the agreement claimed that the alleged agreement will involve the ex-chief of staff entering pleas of guilty to unspecified federal crimes but an attorney for Mr Meadows, George Terwilliger, denied that to The Independent. Mr Terwilliger said that the idea that his client would enter any guilty pleas was ‘complete bulls***’ but did not address the matter of immunity in a brief telephone conversation with this reporter.”

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But in addition to breaking news that Meadows allegedly has accepted a plea deal, The Independent reports Trump is expected to be indicted under a portion of the Espionage Act. NCRM has not verified either of these reports.

“The Department of Justice is preparing to ask a Washington, DC grand jury to indict former president Donald Trump for violating the Espionage Act and for obstruction of justice as soon as Thursday.”

“The Independent has learned that prosecutors are ready to ask grand jurors to approve an indictment against Mr Trump for violating a portion of the US criminal code known as Section 793, which prohibits ‘gathering, transmitting or losing’ any ‘information respecting the national defence,'” The Independent adds.

In early June, former Nixon White House Counsel John Dean remarked, “Meadows has a really good lawyer, a former deputy AG, who could guide him through cooperation and a minimal plea deal of some sort.”

That attorney, George Terwilliger, played coy when asked about his client’s possible grand jury testimony. Terwilliger told The New York Times in an article published late Tuesday, “Without commenting on whether or not Mr. Meadows has testified before the grand jury or in any other proceeding, Mr. Meadows has maintained a commitment to tell the truth where he has a legal obligation to do so.”

Former Deputy Asst. Attorney General Harry Litman on Tuesday said, “I’ve already observed Terwilliger’s skill in representing Meadows. But if he got him an immunity deal–as opposed to a guilty plea + promise to cooperate deal–he is a wizard. [Would] think that Meadows is way too culpable to merit a pass, but if Smith [couldn’t] make case w/o him…”

U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA), a former JAG attorney, tweeted on Tuesday:

“Mark Meadows had three options: 1. Take the Fifth Amendment. 2. Voluntarily cooperate. 3. Cooperate because he was given immunity or a plea deal. Based on the public reporting, it appears he did 2 or 3 above. This makes it more likely Donald Trump will be indicted, again.”

Meadows is a former chair of the far right House Freedom Caucus, and former chair of the House Oversight Committee.

NYU Law professor of law Ryan Goodman, a former U.S. Dept. of Defense Special Counsel, Wednesday morning said it is “NOT a big if” if Meadows has been granted immunity in exchange for his testimony.


This article has been updated to include remarks from Ryan Goodman, and The Independent’s additional reporting with comment from Meadows’ attorney.

This is a breaking news and developing story. Details may change. 

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Fox News Anchor’s Bad Week: Slammed for ‘Complete Lie,’ Accused of Making Up Story During Primetime Guest Hosting Gig



After firing its star host, Tucker Carlson, Fox News has been scheduling its other anchors to fill in as guest hosts on a week-by-week basis, with some viewers, if not network brass, seeing these as auditions.

This week Harris Faulkner, host of the far-right network’s “The Faulkner Focus” and co-host of “Outnumbered,” filled in during what was once Carlson’s slot.

Reaction online has not been positive.

On Monday, Faulkner claimed she had been kicked out of a restaurant for praying, in what The Wrap called a “blistering, biblical monologue about the ongoing ‘attack’ on the Christian faith in America.”

“We know who we are. And we know who’s we are,” Faulkner told the dwindling Fox News audience. “For those of us who believe, we must be bold in our faith right now. When you gather in public spaces pray thankfully over your food, even when the server gives you the stink-eye, or tells the manager that your peaceful grace is triggering them. Had it happen to me. I’ve been asked to leave a restaurant for openly bowing my head in prayer hands. In America. It’s all good. They don’t deserve my money anyway.”

Many demanded Faulkner name the restaurant, or provide proof. Among them, The Daily Beast’s senior media reporter Justin Baragona, who tweeted, Monday night, “I’m going to ask Fox News PR if Harris Faulkner can provide the name of the restaurant and date when this happened. Will update if I receive a response.”

READ MORE: Pence Presidential Launch Mocked for Suggesting Drag Queens Are Assaulting ‘American Values’ – With No Mention of Trump

Baragona has yet to state he’s received a response.

Another doubter is Republican former Congressman Adam Kinzinger, who wrote: “We need the name of this restaurant and when it happened. If true that’s awful. IF it’s not true… which seems most likely the case… then there needs to be accountability. Lies are not the tool of the Lord. And the USA isn’t his god.”

During that same monologue, as The Daily Beast noted, Faulkner told Fox News viewers: “Women and children are being redesigned by some sort of mad leftist science experiment.”

“It’s as though people on the left have more free time than anybody else. They want to acronym and pronoun us to death,” she said, apparently taking a swing at the LGBTQ community. “Well know this: the Lord has determined I am a woman, and my pronouns are U.S.A.”

“We are in a spiritual fight for the soul of America,” she also claimed, “and if you think that’s not true, take a look around at what’s going on. The devil has gotten into some people. The worst part of experiencing our country ripping at the seams is that our enemies are massing, feasting on the tastiness of our weaknesses.”

Baragona pointed out, “In her first night on primetime filling in for Tucker’s old timeslot, Harris Faulkner drew 1.59 million total viewers and just 105,000 in the 25-54 advertising demographic, finishing behind CNN and MSNBC in the demo. Tucker averaged 3.26 million total viewers last quarter.”

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Former CNN media reporter Brian Stelter added, “And Jen Psaki was filling in at 8 on MSNBC,” suggesting MSNBC might have had fewer regular viewers during that time slot.

But the real outrage came on Tuesday, when Faulkner delivered what many deemed an outright “lie,” and served up proof of their accusations.

Faulker told Fox News viewers, “You know, we didn’t actually close schools in 1918, during the Spanish flu pandemic.”

That’s false. Provably false.

“And sometimes we make dangerously bad decisions, like pandemic lockdowns and keeping our own children home from schools when a virus was hurting them far less often than adults,” she said, ignoring the fact that family transmission often started with children (see below.) “You know, we didn’t actually close schools in 1918 during the Spanish flu pandemic. We didn’t even have penicillin back then. We did sacrifice. We suffered but then we pressed on. Our enemies hate us for surviving, but they would love to be like us.”

“This is blatantly untrue and takes about 3 seconds to fact check,” observed Media Matters for America’s Kat Abu.

And fact check many did.

Some noted that penicillin is an antibiotic, not an antiviral, and would have had no effect on the “Spanish flu,” an erroneous term (the first case identified was in the U.S.) for what is broadly known as the 1918 flu pandemic. The CDC says, “The 1918 H1N1 flu pandemic, sometimes referred to as the “Spanish flu,” killed an estimated 50 million people worldwide, including an estimated 675,000 people in the United States.”

READ MORE: Buttigieg: Republicans Are Targeting LGBTQ People Because They ‘Don’t Want to Talk About’ Their Own ‘Radical Positions’

Attorney Brad Moss, calling Faulkner’s claim a “complete lie,” also tweeted: “Utter and total falsity. You would think these fools would have some shame after paying Dominion hundreds of millions of dollars.”

And he came with receipts, including a screenshot of a New York Times article from October, 1918, noting the entire state of Pennsylvania had “indefinitely” shut down all schools, churches, theaters, and “all places of public assemblage.”

Others pointed to a PBS article from 2020 that reads: “During the 1918-1919 influenza pandemic, when an estimated 675,000 people died in the United States alone, the majority of public schools were closed for weeks to months on end. But three major cities — New York City, Chicago, and New Haven — kept their schools open amid valid questions and concerns about safety.”

So false was Faulkner’s claim, a readers’ note was added to video of it. It points to a study that states: “During the 1918–19 influenza pandemic, many local authorities made the controversial decision to close schools.”

Others on social media pointed to an article published last week by the University of Minnesota: “More than 70% of US household COVID spread started with a child, study suggests.”

As for Faulkner’s claim that, “Our enemies hate us for surviving, but they would love to be like us,” the U.S. ranks 15th worst among all countries around the world in COVID deaths per capita.

Meanwhile, Baragona also weighed in, noting: “Throughout the height of the pandemic, Harris Faulkner would only broadcast her show from the safety of her house.”

Watch the videos above or at this link.

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